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U.S. Health Care Spending High, But Quality Lags: Report
Date:5/3/2012

THURSDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- Despite the fact that Americans spend more on their health care than citizens of 12 other developed nations, a new report finds that more does not necessarily equal better when it comes to quality of care.

The Commonwealth Fund report, led by senior research associate David Squires, revealed that the United States is shelling out roughly $8,000 per capita for health care, according to 2009 figures. By contrast, the Japanese and New Zealanders spend just one-third of that amount on health care, while Norwegians and the Swiss cough up about two-thirds.

Yet Americans now fare the worst in terms of preventable asthma fatalities among patients aged 5 to 39. The country also ranks poorly -- alongside Germany -- in diabetes-related amputations. As for in-hospital heart attack and stroke death rates, the United States stacks up as average at best.

"It is a common assumption that Americans get more health care services than people in other countries, but in fact we do not go to the doctor or the hospital as often," Squires said in a Commonwealth Fund news release. "The higher prices we pay for health care and perhaps our greater use of expensive technology are the more likely explanations for high health spending in the U.S. Unfortunately, we do not seem to get better quality for this higher spending."

Released on Thursday, the report analyzed health spending in Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, France, Canada, Germany, Norway, Japan, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, as well as the United States -- the only nation among those studied that does not provide universal health care.

The authors found that in 2009, the United States ranked No. 1 (followed by the Netherlands) in the proportion of its gross domestic product devoted to health care: a full 17 percent. By comparison, the other countries in the report spent 12 percent or less, with Japan ranking as t
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